by Robert Earl Houston
On Monday, September 9, 2013, my father-in-law, Clarence Anderson, Jr., 75, of Sacramento, California, went home to be with the Lord. I know normally we reserve this space for pastors who have left these shores, but I hope you will allow me to share what an awesome man of God my father-in-law was.
Clarence Leon Anderson, Jr. was born February 19, 1938 in Jackson, Mississippi to the union of Naomi Vann and Clarence Leon Anderson, Sr. He was a resident of California for 72 years. He was a graduate of Sacramento High School where he played the Saxophone in the Marching Band. He attained his Bachelor Degree at Sacramento Junior College.
Clarence received an Honorable Discharge after 2 years in the US Army. He retired from McCellen Air Force Base after 34 years of service.
Clarence gave his life to the Lord at an early age and was raised as a Methodist and in the Winter of 1998 he united with Shiloh Baptist Church, and was baptized. He served as an active member until his passing.
Singing was his passion. As a teenager he starred singing “Doo Wopp” music with a group of fellows who called themselves “The Sultans.” At Shiloh, he sung with: The Praise Team, The Mass Choir and the Shiloh Male Chorus. He also sang with the MLK 200 Mens’ Choir, The Sacramento Metropolitan Chapter of the Gospel Music Workshop of America and national James Cleveland Chorus. He now sings with the Heavenly Choir.
On August 23, 1969 he married Edith Raye Thornton. They loved to travel especially sailing on cruises. Clarence loved sports – anyone who knew him knew he loved the San Francisco Giants and the San Francisco 49ers. He enjoyed traveling, laughing and serving others whenever he could.
His daughter, Jessica and I, married on October 22, 2005. We dated for several months. We had our first date in Sacramento, for a cup of coffee, at the California Missionary Baptist State Convention, hosted by her pastor, Rev. Bryant C. Wyatt, Sr. When we decided to get married, Jessica was insistent that I ask her mom and dad for her hand (she’s kinda old-fashioned like that) – but what Jessica was really after was the blessing from her mom and dad. That was very important for her.
I remember walking into the house and how warmly I was received by her parents. Her dad was a sports fan, especially the Giants (baseball) and 49ers (football) which was good grounds for discussions especially since I was an A’s (baseball) and Cowboys (football) fan. I had been told by Jessica that he had coached at one point and I felt like I was not being sized up, but being embraced and thus begun the process of being grafted into the family.
When I asked for Jessica’s hand in marriage, he was overjoyed. He not only became my father-in-law, he became my silent prayer partner. I had no doubts that he and his wife began to pray for us. It’s been a journey.
We married one Saturday in Sacramento, honeymooned in Reno, and then Jessica said farewell to her daddy, her mommy, and the only home she ever had known, to be with her husband in Nashville, Tennessee. It was his joy to walk Jessica down the aisle as she was singing. Music is important to the Anderson family, as it is in my family – and I will never forget the beauty of my bride while being on the arm of her daddy. She is a daddy’s girl – no ifs, ands, and buts about it. He smiled joyously walking his daughter down the aisle.
They saw us off to our flight . . . and I’m sure there was a degree of joy and sadness to see his girl get on that airplane.
The rest is history. I would send Jessica on periodic trips to see her mom and dad. We mailed packages back and forth. After we moved to Nashville, Jessica turned 40 a few years later and I was in conspiracy with her Mom and Dad to arrange to have them present at her surprise party in Nashville. The party opened, food was everywhere (thanks to Juanita Bridgeforth-Hall and company), and then I took to the mic to announce I had special guests in the house and in walked her mom and dad. There was not a dry eye in the house – she hadn’t seen them since we moved to Nashville. All you could hear her say was “Daddy….Mommy.”
Through the years, all four of us have had some health issues – that happens as time goes by. The biggest one personally and obviously was my brush with cancer this year. He did not fail to call if not to speak to me personally, but to call Jessica and check on her. We talked on several occasions and her mom always said something to me when we would conclude our calls, “you know we both love you very much…” To me, it wasn’t just words, it was perfect truth.
I was in Augusta, Georgia at the homegoing services of my friend, Rev. Clifford Williams, when Jessica’s sister, Miya called to let me know that he had suffered a heart attack and the prognosis shared by the doctor. I had to call Jessica at work, and thank God, her supervisor is one of my members and she was able to be in the room, to give her comfort, solace, and help her get on the first plane to Sacramento. I’ll always be grateful for that attention.
Jessica was then when Clarence took his flight on Monday morning. He was surrounded by his loving wife, Edith, and the family. I could only imagine how it went (I was in Kentucky) but Jessica said something, she said that even while doctors were disconnecting apparatuses, they were singing – because that’s what he was – he was a singer of God’s praise. Even the men of the church loved him so much, they sang at Shiloh Sunday Morning, including one of his songs, and then came by the hospital in matching outfits.
On Monday and Tuesday, we’ll gather together to say goodbye to Dad Anderson. A tremendous man of God who blessed so many people in his life and who I know made an impact upon my life that continues to this day.
He is preceded in death by his parents: Mother Naomi Vann-Conley (William); father, Clarence L. Anderson, Sr. (Geneva) and brother, Lennon Conley (Eddy Jo).
Clarence leaves to cherish his memory his loving wife of 44 years Edith Raye Thornton Anderson; Three Daughters: Andrea Williams (Anthony), Fairfield, CA, Amalia “Mia” Jenkins (Shawn), Stockton, CA, Jessica Houston (Pastor Robert Earl), Frankfort, KY and one Son: Jaymar Anderson (Este) Elk Grove, CA. Seven Grandchildren: Elias, Brie, Stephanie, Jazmyn, Danielle, Jannelle and Alexis.
Sisters: Joyce Bynum, Monroe, LA, Linda Bufford (Bo) Southfield, MI, Loubertha Bowens, Memphis, TN and Claressa Motley, Detroit, MI. Brothers: Melvin Conley (Shirley) Monroe, LA, Maurice Conley (Pat) St. Petersburg, VA, Ronny Conley (Jeanette) Memphis, TN, Carlton Anderson (Myra) Spring, TX, and Chuck Anderson (Paula) Novi, MI. 2 Special Aunts: Deloris Reams-Covington and Nettie Jackson. Numerous Nieces and Nephews he called “His Kids,” He was a father figure to many. In-Laws: Gussie Stokes, Sacramento, CA, Deacon Andrew “Sonny” Thornton, Jr. (Dorothy) Elk Grove, CA, Rosie Walker(John) Rome, GA. And a host of other relatives, neighbors, church members, singers and friends.
Home Going Celebration for
Clarence L. Anderson, Jr
Services will be held at
Shiloh Baptist Church
3565 9th Avenue
Sacramento, CA 95817
(916) 452-5052 office
(916) 452-5168 fax
Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013 at 12:00 (PST)
Final Arrangements Entrusted To:
Morgan Jones Funeral Home
Sacramento, CA 95822
(916) 452-4444 office
YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOMED